LITTLETON, Colorado, June 25 (Reuters) - A nearly 18% jump in hydro-powered electricity output during January through May from the same months in 2023 has helped boost Europe's clean electricity generation to new highs.

Electricity generation from hydro dams across Europe was 388 terawatt hours (TWh) from January through May of 2024, according to energy think tank Ember.

That total compares to 330 TWh during the same months last year, and is the highest for that five-month window in at least nine years following above-average rainfall across much of mainland Europe so far in 2024.

Along with record output from wind and solar farms, the high hydro generation total helped lift Europe's clean electricity generation to a record 1,260 TWh in January through May this year, which marks a 9.4% advance from the same months in 2023.

Higher clean power output has allowed Europe's power producers to cut fossil fuel generated electricity production by more than 9% to its lowest cumulative total for the first five months of the year since at least 2015.

Lower fossil fuel use has in turn cut Europe's power sector emissions by around 9% to their lowest in over 9 years, Ember data shows.


The recovery in hydro electricity generation has been seen throughout mainland Europe.

From January 1 through June 23, hydro generation in France - mainland Europe's largest hydro producer - was 3.7 million gigawatt hours (GWh), according to data compiled by LSEG.

That total marks a more than 50% rise from the 2.4 million GWh generated during the same period in 2023, and is 12% more than the long term average during that period.

In Italy, hydro generation is up 49% for the same period in 2023 and 23.4% above the long term average, while Germany's hydro production so far this year is 44% above the long term average, LSEG data shows.

Hydro generation in the Alps catchment area - which is an aggregation of output across Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland - is up 40% from the same period last year and is 14.4% above normal.


For Europe as a whole, hydro dams produced 19.2% of total electricity generation during the first five months of the year.

That share compares to an average of 17% for the previous five years, and reveals that hydro power is accounting for an historically large portion of Europe's electricity in 2024.

And thanks to the dispatchable nature of much of Europe's hydro power - meaning it can be distributed when needed across grids - power producers have been able to cut back on generation from fossil fuels.

From January through May, coal-fired generation is down 13.3% while natural gas-fired generation is down 7%, Ember data shows.

Europe's power firms are also making use of a 21.4% rise in solar generation and a 7.6% climb in wind output during the January to May window, driving total electricity generation up nearly 2% from the same period in 2024.

Seasonal trends suggest that Europe's hydro generation total may start to decrease over the coming months as the impact of snow melt wanes and several countries enter their driest period for the year.

But with solar generation set to keep climbing into the peak summer period, and output from nuclear plants and bioenergy facilities largely flat, Europe's cumulative clean generation total looks primed for further gains over the near term to help advance the region's continuing energy transition efforts.

(Reporting by Gavin Maguire; Editing by Michael Perry)